Anxiety disorders are in part grouped together based on their shared symptoms.
However, many people experience a range of symptoms across the spectrum of disorders. Anxiety symptoms that begin to interfere with normal activities in life and relationships could point to an anxiety disorder.
The six common types of anxiety disorders are:
Generalised anxiety disorder
Generalised anxiety disorder is excessive, uncontrollable worry about a range of ordinary situations like health, work or finances.
Social phobia or social anxiety disorder
Social phobia or social anxiety disorder causes people to avoid social or performance situations for fear of being embarrassed or rejected.
Panic disorder is associated with regular panic attacks, which are sudden intense episodes of irrational fear, shortness of breath, dizziness and other physical symptoms.
Agoraphobia is often associated with panic disorder, and involves avoiding certain situations due to fear of having a panic attack.
Specific phobias are irrational fears that only apply to one particular situation, such as a fear of animals, insects, places or people (for example claustrophobia is a specific fear of enclosed or confined spaces).
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) involves unwanted thoughts and impulses (obsessions), causing repetitive, routine behaviours (compulsions) as a way of coping with anxiety.
Post traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when feelings of fear or avoidance do not fade after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic life event. It involves upsetting memories, flashbacks, nightmares and difficulties sleeping.
No matter what type of anxiety disorder you have, treatment is available. Counselling, lifestyle changes and medication are some of the ways you can overcome it.
At any time if you feel that you may harm yourself or have thoughts of suicide talk to family or friends and inform your GP as a matter of urgency. You can ring a phone service such as lifeline 13 11 14 24 hours a day. If you are the loved one or carer ring the ambulance (dial 000).
Last reviewed: November 2016